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South China Sea needs cooperation, not outside interference

(Xinhua)    21:04, August 08, 2017

With joint efforts by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), substantial progress has been made at the ASEAN foreign ministers' meetings, which highlight cooperation and oppose outside interference.

Over the past year, the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized, with China and ASEAN countries agreeing to resolve disputes through direct dialogue and negotiation by the parties directly concerned.

In a joint communique issued in Manila Sunday, China and ASEAN countries successfully drew up and adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, announcing that they would initiate substantive consultations on the text of the COC at a proper time within the year.

An MFA-to-MFA (ministry of foreign affairs-to-ministry of foreign affairs) hotline to manage maritime emergencies has also had early success, applauded by all participant countries.

The positive change in the South China Sea has been achieved by strengthened exchanges and communication, as well as positive attitudes toward deepening cooperation.

All parties involved in the framework believe that while peace is mandatory for development, sincere cooperation can boost shared economic growth.

China has always valued a friendly relationship with ASEAN, placing the bloc as a priority in its diplomatic direction and a key area to promote Belt and Road Initiative construction.

However, some outside countries have preferred to remain in the past, turning a blind eye to the positive progress and unwilling to recognize the achievements while engaging in demagoguery.

Clinging to outdated stereotypes and a Cold War mentality, they still view the South China Sea as an arena for big powers to compete for influence, using small nations as pawns in their chess game.

Having failed in their attempts to wield so-called "international rules" and "freedom of navigation" to their benefit, they overreach, sowing discord between nations based on lies and false assumptions, regarding the China-ASEAN cooperative framework as a zero-sum game.

Past years have already witnessed the peaceful South China Sea become troubled waters due to irresponsible non-regional meddling, leaving only China and ASEAN countries to clean up the mess.

Facts speak much louder than groundless accusations.

China has been the largest trading partner of ASEAN for the past eight consecutive years. In 2016 alone, two-way trade between China and ASEAN reached 452.2 billion U.S. dollars.

China and ASEAN countries also aspire to comprehensively upgrade the free trade zone and have set a goal for bilateral trade volume to reach 1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020.

The fruitful results between China and ASEAN countries reflect that they have the ability and wisdom to substantiate the COC and further stabilize the situation in the South China Sea to serve the best interests of these countries.

The year 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. The ministers expect to designate 2018 as the ASEAN-China Year of Innovation Cooperation and formulate a 2030 Vision for China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership as a blueprint to guide future relations.

The South China Sea is set for peace and more development to benefit the people of China and ASEAN countries, and it is time for non-regional countries to abandon their indiscretion.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Chen Lidan, Bianji)

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